The Delchar Theater Reopens | Mayville - Portland, North Dakota

The Delchar Theater Reopens

Delchar LogoSpider-Man spins webs for Delchar’s digital opening

Just before 6 p.m. May 1, Heather Torgeson posted a board outside the Delchar in Mayville, listing ticket and concession prices. David Torgeson was inside going over final details for opening night.

The new owners of the digitally enhanced movie theatre began accepting patrons at 6:30 p.m. to try to have them served and seated by the time the new projector rolled at 7:15 p.m.

The procession of customers was gradual, no long lines at first. Kurt Elliott admitted that between high school and college sports and work down on the farm near Clifford, “It’s rare for me to take a night and go to a movie. This is a super deal to have.”

Kraig Lerol attended a preview screening two nights before of trailers for “movies I didn’t even know were coming out. I hope they have a good turnout tonight and make a go of it.”

Youngsters eagerly dashed down the sidewalk, one shouting, “I can smell popcorn!” That would be in high demand. Renee Torgeson, David’s mother, couldn’t fill bags and refill the popper quick enough. The line for popcorn was separated from people wanting candy or drinks, and it was long.

Taking tickets on this family fortified premiere evening was David’s brother, Hunter, along with Madison Ness.Asked if his brother and sister-in-law had to twist his arm to have him volunteer, Hunter smiled, “Yeah, but that’s all right. I’m very excited for them.” Up-to-the-minute arrivals asked if there were any seats left. Inside, every row including the balcony had at least a couple of souls seated, viewing trivia on the new, widesreen.The popcorn line continued during two previews of upcoming Marvel Comics movies and a few minutes into the feature, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which opened with midnight show- ing in other U.S. cities.

The sound coming from the digital speaker behind the screen could be heard clearly all the way to the back row. “I could actually hear half of the dialogue,” Rick Holman joked afterward. “That’s important for some of us who went here 60 years ago as kids.”

“I really like that the screen is bigger and closer,” Ernie Strube said. David said opening night drew at least 130 movie fans and Friday night’s crowd also was pretty big.

There was a hiccup Saturday. The projection system froze and tickets had to be refunded.

“We had some trouble with equipment that needed to be replaced,” David said. “We were able to show the film Sunday with a patch fix which we can use for the future if something occurs.” Having just completed the replacement May 6, David said, “So far, so good.” Former owner Steve Larson told the Tribune that the system installer said problems generally occur during the first six months. The convenience is that most problems can be handled over the phone.

At the May 1 meeting of the Mayville Portland Economic Devel- opment Committee, Tom Capouch, who headed the Committee to Save the Delchar, disclosed there was one deposit left to make for the final 15% of the cost of the digital conversion. Once the payment is made, the lease should be signed. Capouch said MPEDC has applied for a grant from USDA Rural De- velopment to possibly help with the projector cost.

The Torgesons will pay 25 cents per ticket sold toward repayment of a lease agreement with MPEDC.

Along with the projector repair, David spent much of the early part of the week replacing burned out bulbs in the marquee. Minus Sat- urday’s trouble, the Torgesons felt opening weekend went well.

“We had people back for a second time, which was great!” David expressed.

The next feature after Spider-Man won’t be booked until May 12, but for the future David hopes to have the schedule of movies out a month in advance.

“We were stressed all weekend, but once Sunday came around, we were able to breathe and enjoy it,” David said. “Looking forward to many more!”

James R. Johnson, Traill County Tribune
A special thanks to the Traill County Tribune for the use of this article from May 10, 2014. 



The Delchar Theater in Mayville is reopening, thanks to a movie aficionado, a community willing to contribute and gracious former owners.

Closed since late December, the 1927-built movie theater reopened with new owners and the debut showing of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

The owners are David and Heather Torgeson, married 20-somethings whose day jobs are with the May-Port CG School District. David, who grew up in Mayville, said he “always had a dream” to operate a movie theater.

“It’s going to be a second job and a hobby at the same time,” he added.

His dream collided with the reality of Mayville having a population of only 1,800, meaning there is no guarantee of big profits.

“Like I’ve said before, after bad years we went out to celebrate at McDonald’s and after good years, we went to Perkins,” said Steve Larson, the former owner along with wife Laurel.

The community showed its support for the theater with $37,000 in private donations and fundraising events and a $20,000 no-interest loan from the May-Port Economic Development Corp. The loan will be paid back with 25 cents per movie ticket sold, a process that is estimated to take 10 years.

“It was humbling to see the level of support from a lot of folks in the community, especially those with kids,” said Tom Capouch, a banker who headed the fundraising committee. “People wanted something for the kids to do in town.”

But the crowning move was the $1 price tag put on the theater by the Larsons, the final touch that meant the new owners had to borrow only $8,000 for improvements such as a new screen and surround-sound speakers.

“We wanted to see the business keep going, and we wanted to give them a fighting chance,” Steve Larson said. “We really didn’t have anything to lose. Now we know the business is in good hands and should stand a real good chance of working out.”

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Mayville City Auditor

Portland City Auditor